The story of the Jaguars acquiring Don Carey has become a well-documented one. The idea of Gene Smith basically stealing an unknown talent away from the Cleveland Browns, leaving them feeling as though they had been treated unethically, was an exciting thought for Jaguar fans. This player must be something special if two teams would battle over him while injured and without ever seeing him play an in-game, NFL snap. The legend of Don Carey continued to grow with articles from BCC's own Collin Streetman and Black & Teal's Terry O'Brien lauding his intelligence and college career.
Unfortunately for Mr. Carey, everyone seemed to forget one thing: he's a rookie.
Perhaps not literally, but considering he's a 23 year old who participated in only a few Browns practices before suffering a season ending shoulder injury, he is basically a rookie.
Not even a first day rookie, but a 6th round, small school rookie. While his college career was impressive, it's always a battle for a late round pick to make a roster, let alone make an impact. Battling for a roster spot is exactly what Carey is doing now. While he has played like a rookie at times, he hasn't been nearly as bad as many commenters have made him out to be. It was unfair expectations that have created this backlash for Carey.
These expectations have only been perpetuated by some national media, such as Pro Football Weekly, who had this to say during the Jaguars OTA's:
"If Rashean Mathis’ holdout continues into training camp, second-year CB Don Carey appears to be the front-runner to start in Mathis’ spot."
After rewatching the three preseason games so far, my opinion is that Carey is behind Rashean Mathis, Derek Cox, Michael Coe and Scott Starks in terms of play. The battle for a 5th, final spot is between Carey and William Middleton.
What's difficult to ignore in this battle is Middleton's tremendous special teams ability. How good is Middleton on special teams? Well Middleton was the only Jaguar to make Paul Kuharsky's 2009 All-AFC South Team. He did so by beating out Montell Owens, who was considered by most fans to be the best special teamer on the Jaguars.
Don Carey is still eligible to make the practice squad if another team chooses not to claim him or sign him, but back to the big question: Is Don Carey worth one of the valuable 53 spots? In my opinion, the answer is no.